The Orioles will play their final Grapefruit League night game of the season tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium. The clubhouse will open at 2 p.m., at which time, we should hear about the latest round of roster cuts. Orioles Buck Showalter said that there could be as many as 10 cuts, but that group will probably include the guys over from minor league camp who have joined the team for much of the spring. Those guys – Chris Jakubauskas, Alberto Castillo, Chris George, and Mike Ballard – were never technically given big league camp invites so I'm not sure they'd qualify as cuts. But there still could me some big names heading out to Twin Lakes Park as Zach Britton and Josh Bell certainly have to be among the players in the discussion.
As for tonight's game, Jake Arrieta is pitching for the Orioles and first baseman Derrek Lee and second baseman Brian Roberts are both expected to be in the lineup.
Now to just a few random thoughts/opinions/facts about the Orioles and roster composition as Opening Day draws near:
It's not been a good spring for the Orioles projected back-end of the bullpen as Michael Gonzalez has allowed runs in three consecutive Grapefruit League outings, Kevin Gregg has a 16.00 ERA and Koji Uehara has only pitched once in a big league spring training game because of elbow trouble. However, the Orioles have to be encouraged by how good Jim Johnson has looked. He's been, far and away, their best short reliever this spring, allowing just one earned run and six hits in six innings. He's walked none and struck out five and he's been burying his sinker on hitters all spring.
Speaking of relievers, I thought lefty Clay Rapada was a near lock to make the team about two weeks ago, but now, he's either squarely on the bubble or he's fallen behind. In his last three appearances spanning 2 2/3 innings, Rapada has allowed four earned runs, four hits and a walk. Showalter has said that he'll have to show that he can defend himself against right-handed hitters to make the club, and Rapada just hasn't done that.
I'm not exactly breaking news with this tidbit here, but it's become pretty clear that Robert Andino and Jake Fox will either be on the Orioles' Opening Day roster, or they'll be on another team. Both Fox and Andino are out of options and I – or any of the other baseball people that we talk to – see no way that both clear waivers. There are several teams that are looking to add to their catching and infield depth. At this point, I think Fox is pretty much on the team. If Andino makes it, it's probably going to be at the expense of Craig Tatum because the other three bench spots are probably set with Fox, Cesar Izturis and either Felix Pie or Nolan Reimold.
By now, it's a formality that Rule 5 reliever Adrian Rosario will not make the Opening Day roster so the Orioles will either have to work out a trade with Milwaukee for him or send him back. It's unlikely that reliever Pat Egan, who Milwaukee took from the Orioles in the Rule 5 Draft, will make the Brewers' roster either. So both will likely be back with their original teams or the two club could hope both clear waivers and try to work out a trade to keep their respective Rule 5 picks. It would surprise me, however, if the Brewers were willing to do that as Rosario is younger and has more upside than Egan. Meanwhile, reports out of New York are that reliever Pedro Beato, who the New York Mets took from the Orioles' roster in the Rule 5, most likely will make the Mets' Opening Day roster.
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